Finding Out the Genuine Issues Stakeholders and Suppliers Want Solved

Do you really know the genuine issues stakeholders and suppliers want solutions for?

Most CPOs would love to have:

  • Better collaboration with stakeholders
  • Increased participation from suppliers
  • Increased spend under management
  • Greater visibility and recognition for their efforts
  • Reduced dependency on offline systems
  • Promised savings that are realized and quickly quantified

These are all excellent goals.

To achieve them, you need to know why steps taken so far haven’t worked.

It is impossible to solve an issue until you get to the root of it.

Your stakeholders and suppliers are not likely to tell you the real reasons unless you delve deeper.

See if these answers and complaints sound familiar:

  • Procurement takes too long to respond to our requests.
  • Our purchases are very technical, and we don’t believe they understand how to find the right suppliers.
  • I know who the best suppliers are, and I don’t need help from corporate.
  • The purchasing system is too cumbersome and takes too long to submit each request.
  • The RFPs you issue take so much time to respond to and we never get any business when we do respond.

I can go on.

The problem with these answers is that they aren’t telling you the genuine reasons why they don’t want to do business with your organization or use the procurement system.

It should be obvious that these are vague answers designed to put off detailing the specific issues.

So, what can you do?

Ask better questions and it isn’t that hard. Better questions will help you uncover the facts. You will also learn the emotional response behind the issue and that is the real key.

I will use the first issue to outline a basic process for you to consider.

“Procurement takes too long to respond to our requests.”

A typical response: “How long does it normally take.” (Some people may get defensive and that rarely leads to a constructive conversation.)

A better response with a question would be: “When you say it takes too long, what does that mean?”

The next response may sound like: “Sometimes it takes a week for procurement to respond to even simple requests.” You are getting closer.

Next step: “Tell me more about that.”

More details are likely to come out in their response: “Last week I needed to get shipping materials ASAP because we were running very low and it still took 3 days to get a response.”

Next question: “I get the feeling that this was a big deal, can you tell me how that impacted you?”

The real reason they are upset: “We were unable to meet some rush orders from customers and my boss chewed me out.” There could be more here if this will impact the company’s ability to meet sales goals or if customers go to a competitor.

Now you have a better handle on the what – the facts and the why – the emotion.

You could then ask: “if you were in my shoes, what would you change first?”

This is a real opportunity. People who are frustrated will use workarounds to get things done. Finding out those workarounds should provide insight that you can use to improve your system.

Whatever issue you uncover, you won’t know if it is systemic until you ask more stakeholders.

People like to get things off their chest and they will appreciate a sincere effort to make things better.

They will also be reluctant to help in the future if nothing happens.

Ask better questions, make changes and 2018 will be your best year ever.

Action Step: If you are uncertain where to start the process of change, a procurement professional like myself can provide guidance and expertise to help your organization achieve the results you want.

If you want to go explore this topic in greater detail, please contact me. I invite you to request 30-minute discovery conversation. In my experience the next step will be apparent at the end of the call. I never assume that what I have to offer will be right for everyone, so don’t expect a sales pitch. You can reach me at 973-936-9672.

If you would like to know more ways to reduce costs without changing the way you do business, simply give me a call or send me an email with your contact information and the best time to reach you.

You Won’t Drift to Success©

Commit to taking the next step.

Until Next Time, I Wish You Great Success in Your Business and in Your Life

Mike Jeffries